One in seven employers admit they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought may go on to have children, according to a YouGov survey for women’s charity Young Women’s Trust.
In the survey of 800 HR decision-makers, a significant number were hesitant about hiring women in their 20s and 30s who might have children in the future – despite it being illegal to make hiring decisions on this basis. Concern was more common among male HR decision-makers (18 per cent) than female decision-makers (10 per cent).
A quarter indicated that the organisation they work in takes account of whether a woman is pregnant or has young children during decisions about career progression or promotion, which is also in breach of the law.
A previous poll by Young Women’s Trust found that 39 per cent of young mums had been illegally asked in job interviews about how being a mother would affect their ability to work.
Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton said: “It’s no wonder women are held back in the workplace when employers have such outdated, discriminatory views. It is employers and our economy that miss out on the talents of young women as a result. Young women who want to work are meanwhile struggling to make ends meet and finding themselves in debt.
“Employers should value young women’s contributions to their workplaces and do more to accommodate them, including by offering more flexible and part-time working opportunities.
“It’s not just employers’ who need to stop treating women as second class citizens; society as a whole should support men to take an equal role in childcare. Until that happens, women will continue to face discrimination at work.”
One in three employers surveyed said that men will never take an equal role in caring for children.
Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Despite it being illegal to make recruitment decisions based on assumptions about a woman’s role in childcare, these figures show that there is still a huge problem with pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
“When the Committee looked at this issue over a year ago it was shocked by the extent of discrimination. Its report called on the Government to take further action to encourage wider compliance with the law by employers.
“The Committee has also highlighted the importance of providing non-transferable paternity leave to encourage more equal sharing of childcare. We must tackle the assumption that it is only women who want to take time away from work to care for their children.
“There is still far more to be done in this area and I would encourage ministers not to let these issues slip down the agenda.”